Thursday, February 18, 2010

Germany not so keen on having nuclear weapons on their soil

Gee, I wonder why? Not surprisingly, talk of doing something about it makes the Americans a bit nervous:
The German government would like to see the withdrawal of all remaining American nuclear weapons stationed in Germany. But former NATO head George Robertson told SPIEGEL that it's not quite so easy. He says the demand 'is dangerous.'

When it became clear last year that Guido Westerwelle, a politician obsessed with domestic issues, would become Germany's next foreign minister, he quickly needed to flex his foreign policy muscles. And it didn't take him long to find an issue sure to be popular with German voters.

Not long after German general elections late last September, Westerwelle, head of the business-friendly Free Democrats -- junior coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives -- reiterated his campaign demand that it was time to begin the process of removing the remaining atomic weapons based in Germany. He said the weapons were a "relic of the Cold War" and said they "no longer have a military purpose."

The demand quickly found its way into Merkel's coalition agreement. "We will advocate within the (NATO) Alliance and with our American allies the removal of the remaining nuclear weapons from Germany," the document reads.

But what sells well at home is not always well-received on the stage of geo-strategy and international security. In an interview with SPIEGEL this week, former NATO General Secretary George Robertson said that he considers the demand to be "simply dangerous."
From Der Spiegel. And why do they think they need these nukes? Because those big bad Russkies are just waiting to take over, of course:

He emphasized that any strategic shift must be discussed in detail with NATO member states further east. Negotiations with Russia on a reduction of its nuclear arsenal are also a must, he said.

NATO has some 200 short-range nuclear weapons stationed in Europe with an estimated 20 of those in Germany. Russia, however, possesses many times that amount -- Robertson mentioned 5,400 in his interview with SPIEGEL -- and there are many within NATO who favor using American nukes in Europe as a bargaining chip with Russia.

My question is, if Russia is as hostile and dangerous as these people think, how do they expect to be able to swap 20 nukes for a significant chunk of those 5,400 Russian bombs? They're not likely to be pushovers. Maybe if the Yanks offered to swap some of their strategic nukes they'd make some headway in that regard...

In any case, I don't think Russia is waiting to pounce on a helpless Europe. I don't think they were in a hurry to do so even for most of the Soviet era (well, after 1953 at least). The Cold War is over, folks. Time to move on, not to try to start it up again.

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